Epic Two: Temujin's Bluster

Now that I had met everyone and reached the AD years, the game had well and truly begun for the first time. As I mentioned before, since Cyrus/Cathy's religion of Judaism had spread to my capital of its own accord, I decided to swap to it for happiness and the relations boost. They were way over on the other side of the world, so there would be no point in attacking them early on. May as well cultivate some good relations, therefore. Naturally, this ticked off the ultra-aggressive and Hindu Temujin, so he declared war in 305AD:

Oh, did I mention that he declared war with a single empty galley? Yeah, maybe I should have mentioned that. Needless to say, I was not particularly worried. His galley pillaged one fishing net (quite literally - it was a fish resource!) then died trying to attack one of my own galleys. And that was the only offensive force I saw from Temujin in the whole conflict.

So in non-phony news, I wanted to build the Hanging Gardens for the scenario points (and it was so easy to do with the stone at the start!), but I didn't want to drag my capital away from settlers to plunk it on a wonder for the next two dozen or so turns. (Don't forget, you need to build an aqueduct first before you can start Hanging Gardens!) So if you look closely at my 5AD screenshot, you'll see Bombay working on an aqueduct instead of Delhi. I wonder what my second city could be preparing to build?

I guess I can't keep anything secret from you. Score me 2 scenario points (the +1 population didn't hurt either!)

Alright, so while my phony war with Temujin continued, I basically kept building up my civ largely undisturbed. I don't have a whole lot of notes from this period because the details were pretty mundane. One thing that I did do was to cancel Open Borders temporarily with some civs that were heading through my territory with settler galleys. Cathy and Cyrus both tried to come through my lands with settlers from the west, but I canceled my Open Borders temporarily and refused to let them pass. Cathy sulked and threw her hair around in a fit, but there was nothing she could do about it. After about a dozen turns had passed and she had calmed down a bit, we simply resumed out Open Borders and went back to good relations. Hey, nothing says you HAVE to keep your borders open if you don't want to! I oscillated between opening and closing my borders to keep what I had claimed as mine for a while here, and it was great fun to do.

Delhi did take a break from its endless progression of settlers to slip in another crucial wonder:

If there's any map worth building the Colossus on, it was surely this one. No scenario points, but the Colossus was hugely helpful regardless. I researched Metal Casting before any of the AI civs and got it without any problems, even though I didn't have copper. Hey, with all those gems and gold resources, it was worth it to build the forges too. (I think I'm required to build the Colossus in every one of our games, Speaker now mentions this whenever we see the Colossus get built in a MP event.)

A quick word about supplying foreign civs with gems here... I did the best I could to trade away all my gems, but there were actually large stretches of time where one or more of the civs would be absolutely broke and couldn't cough up even 1 measly gold per turn. No gold per turn and no resources I didn't already have - what was I supposed to do? Tokugawa had a resource I lacked (incense, I think) but it was always redded out (no surprise there). Between that and Temujin's war declaration on me, there were large stretches of time where I wasn't supplying gems to someone and got to keep a source for myself. I didn't intend that to happen, but it did. I wasn't going to check the diplo screen every single turn (this isn't Civ3, for goodness' sake!), but I did check it a lot and did everything I could to trade my gems away. I think I was fortunate here that Tokugawa and Mao were so broke that I frequently got to keep one of my gems for happiness purposes.

As far as that phony war goes... the one and only city I wanted was the very one that I had pointed out back in 600BC, Temujin's hopelessly isolated island colony to my south. By 620AD, I had gotten cats down there to start working on the city defenses, leading to this picture:

Turfan has cows, wheat, and spices, as well as three hill tiles. I definitely want to get this city! Unfortunately, it is also on a hill, making those archers much more difficult to take out. Since my cat odds were under 10% to attack, even with City Raider promotions, I resolved to wait until I could hook up the iron seen above and return with some swords. By the way, I also snapped the picture with my second Great Prophet selected. His highlighted tech is Theology - BUT I can't take that because it will found Christianity! Therefore, I merged him into Delhi as another super-specialist. Gotta do something with those guys! Going into Bureaucracy (I'm reaching Civil Service above) would only make them that much more useful in the capital.

It took a little while to get the iron mined and roaded, and by the time I did that, I already had Machinery and Civil Service. No swords for Turfan, therefore - let's try maces instead. Once I got a pair of them down there, it was no contest against archers, even archers fortified on a hill:

I razed Old Sarai because it didn't fit with my planned dotmap, then signed peace with Temujin. The peace negotiations revealed that he was already essentially out of the running as far as the AIs went:

Up 8 techs on Temujin? And with his insane AI personality? Yeah, he's definitely doomed to perpetual backwardness for all time. He most likely built a ton of units that can't even reach my civ for lack of galleys. On the positive side for me, this means that I now have virtually free run of the entire western hemisphere, with most of the other AIs clustered in the east. Now, if I can just consolidate this position that's opened up in the southeast, I should be unstoppable.

Here's the map from 1100AD:

I'm out to a solid core of nine cities, and am about to found my tenth on the very next turn on the island northeast of Lahore. I've also just discovered Optics and my caravels are heading out to explore the parts of the map that have been difficult or unreachable up to this point in time. Aside from Delhi, Turfan is the ONLY city with any kind of production. I decided the most effective thing to do would be to build the Heroic Epic in Turfan and basically have it crank military for all time (West Point would go there eventually too). On this kind of map, you have to get all you can out of any city with three hill tiles and a cow resource! Delhi would focus mostly on wonders and settlers, since I had to reserve one national wonder spot for Globe Theatre there.

As for all my other cities, the vast majority of them being fishing cities... Have you heard of something called the whip? Let me say this flat out here: there is NO map script that favors whipping more than archipelagos. In a very real sense, this game is all about who can get the most out of massive use of whipping (and another game feature, which I'll get into later). So the situation looks something like this. Virtually every coastal city has at least one food resource (fish and clams are both disgustingly abundant), yet few of them have any shields at all. Therefore, the best thing to do is whip them constantly, literally every 15 turns, as soon as the last whipping anger wears off. Food is cheap on this map - we need shields! Serial whipping all the way!

I slaughtered enormous numbers of my people in this game... You have no idea how many thousands fell to the whip's fearful harvest. Never have I whipped more, and never has it been more useful than here. The vast majority of my core cities built every single one of their buildings via the whip! You can get up to 45 shields from one population point, so even those expensive banks and universities can be popped out with ease at a city working a fish resource (+6 food). Look, if you struggled in this game, the one most important thing to take away is to use the whip more!

Oh, and we were Organized for this game. Organized civs are flat-out the BEST for water maps like this, equalled only by Financial civs. Organized gets cheap lighthouses and courthouses, both things that you're going to need in most every city. (New cities as a rule whip lighthouse, then granary, then courthouse/library, with a work boat supplied by a more established city.) Aside from Washington (FIN/ORG) and Caesar (EXP/ORG), we had just about the best possible leader for this game.

Taking out Temujin's southern cities had now given me access to the southeastern part of the map, where there was the little cul-de-sac I had accidentally run into with my scouting galley in BC years. There was another gems source over there, as well as some good land, and with the 1500AD deadline coming up, I decided to make a play for that region. It also didn't hurt that I had some maces and cats left over from fighting Temujin close at hand... So in 1130AD I declared war on Mao and moved in for the attack:

Mao had... two archers for defense. Heh. I tell you, the AI just cannot think strategically on a map like this. Rather than concentrating its forces at any one point, it scatters its units across the entire length and breadth of the islands under its control. And the extremely low production on the map prevents the AI from building new units rapidly, leaving it pretty helpless to respond to human aggression (this is Epic speed too). On paper the AI looks as strong as usual, but in reality there are ways for the human to run circles around the AI and overcome the low production of this water map. Slaving is one major answer. We'll get to another one a little bit later on.

I didn't like the location of Guangzhou, because I wanted to plant a city on the western island there to claim the wines, and Guangzhou's location ruled out founding any cities over there. So I razed it down, and naturally I had to burn Chendu too, since it was actually ON a gems resource:

So much for those cities. As soon as I got a settler over here, I would have five gems sources connected (that turned out to be 1238AD, which is probably not the fastest, but has an outside shot at it). Mao had one more city over by me, so I took that too and then sued for peace.

My galleys actually couldn't proceed any further east from here, because ocean tiles blocked the path to mainland China. More importantly though, I had reached a natural defensible position (until galleons, anyway) and won myself some very decent land. Xian didn't have enough production to be a real unit producer, but those two hill tiles made it strong enough to become a missionary center. I would later crank missionaries almost nonstop from this city for centuries on end (but that's getting ahead of the story). Also note the small island north of Xian. There's room there for another size 25 city, and I would indeed get a settler to the location I wanted before 1500AD. Score one for a mixture of planning and ruthless aggression.

The wars against Temujin and Mao had won me control of what I regarded as "my" territory, and after a delayed expansion I was now out to a decent amount of cities. Most of the good land around me was now claimed. To this point, I had also remained relatively close to the other AI civs in power and score, although I was clearly leading the pack. With my borders secure everywhere but in the east, it was now time to begin to attack the AI civs in earnest, beginning the long push that would ultimately result in Domination. Go on to the next page for more details...